Last week at the English Dharma Study Group, reading the Dhammapada, we went over the section on “Mind”. I am including the translation by Thomas Byrom here since it is easier for me to understand and so those people who were unable to attend last week can read it. It is my favorite section of the Dhammapada since in many ways, it reminds me of the “ox herding poems.”
Like a fish out of water, Stranded on the shore, Thoughts thrash and quiver, For how can they shake off desire?
They tremble, they are unsteady, They wander at their will. It is good to control them, And to master them brings happiness.
But how subtle they are, how elusive!
The task is to quieten them, and by ruling them to find happiness.
With single-mindedness the master quells his thoughts. He ends their wandering. Seated in the cave of the heart, He finds freedom.
How can a troubled mind understand the way? If a man is disturbed, he will never be filled with knowledge.
An untroubled mind, no longer seeking to consider what is right and what is wrong, a mind beyond judgments, watches and understands.
Know that the body is a fragile jar, and make a castle of the mind. In every trial let understanding fight for you to defend what you have won.
For soon the body is discarded. Then what does it feel? A useless log of wood, it lies on the ground. Then what does it know?
Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded.
But once mastered, no one can help you as much, not even your father or your mother.
(I hope everyone can make it to the English Dharma Study Group this Thursday around 7pm at the restaurant, Classic Food, next to the Day’s Inn on Route 16 for the continuation of our study on the Dhammapada. Everyone is welcomed to attend and books are always provided.)